TINLEY PARK, Ill. — New life is finally coming to the site of the former mental health center in southwest suburban Tinley Park. 

Closed in 2012 for cost-saving purposes under then-Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, the Tinley Park Mental Health Center, a sprawling ​280-acre site, once housed thousands of patients over decades of use.

Its boundaries roughly run from 183rd and Harlem to 175th and 80th Avenue, comprising 280 acres. Once eyed as a potential casino site, Tinley Park residents rejected that plan for one that would incorporate various indoor and outdoor recreational activities and a fair amount of undeveloped green space.

Phase one will develop 90 acres, with parts of the property to be devised later as part of a public-private venture.

In early August, the state signed over the property for $1 and has set aside $15 million for environmental cleanup.

“Our main focus right now is to clean up the property and remediate the property,” said park district board commissioner Ashley Rubino.

Rubino and Lisa O’Donavan, also a board commissioner, said they are excited the project is picking up steam after sitting vacant for far too long. But before the public can enjoy the space, both say safety precautions must be in place. As such, removing ground contamination from the old hospital and asbestos on the ground is paramount, O’Donavan said.

“Tetra Tech is going to be doing an updated environmental study. They are the same company that did the environmental study in 2014, so we are happy to partner with them again,” O’Donavan added.

In 2005, the village used a portion of the facility to house about 100 Louisiana residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

O’Donovan, born and raised in Tinley Park, and Rubino, now a longtime resident, both say they are confident when all is said and done, their families and countless others in their village and beyond will be delighted with the finished product.

“It’s a fantastic piece of property,” O’Donavan said.

The former head of the Illinois Environmental Agency, Renee Cipriano, has been hired to spearhead the cleanup of the property. Both commissioners say the input of Tinley Park residents will be part of the entire process.